Verona New Jersey Historical Photographs and History
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Verona Lake Park, NJ, circa 1900
Entrance to Verona Lake Park, off Bloomfield Ave, circa 1900-1906
Hand-Colored Black & White photo

The history of Verona Park can be traced back as early as 1814 when a dam to power a gristmill was built on the Peckman River. The water behind that dam formed a 13-acre Lake. The Lake was a popular attraction for weekend picnicking by the 1890's, with commercial boathouses and concession stands. The Trolley that ran up Bloomfield Av from Newark brought additional visitors. Local citizens then conceived the idea of a formal Park around the lake, joining with the Essex County Parks Commission to purchase enough land by the 1920's to bring the total area of the Park to 54 acres. The County then brought in the Olmstead Brothers Landscape firm to design a showcase public space, just as the Olmstead Brothers had done for Central Park in New York City a generation earlier.

Verona New Jersey Park History
Bloomfield Ave bridge over Peckman River, Verona Lake Park, circa 1900-1906

Verona Lake Park, circa 1905
Waterfall, Dam and old Boathouse (at right) at Verona Lake, circa 1905

Verona Lake Park, circa 1900-1905, note 2 boathouses
Hand-Colored Black & White photo

Boating on Verona Lake Park, circa 1905-1908, note tracks for mini Railroad ride

Annual Farmer's Picnic at Verona Lake Park, probably 1905, the year previous to the posted date.
Notice everyone standing and trash strewn about due to lack of benches and garbage cans ! 
This was before the park was enlarged and brought in the County system. Note Bicycle rack at right

Steam Boat on Verona Lake Park, circa 1900-1906

The Mini Steam Railroad, circa 1905

The Mini Railroad, circa 1905. People got dressed up for Picnics back then.

A tranquil scene at Verona Lake Park, late 1930's

The "new" boathouse at Verona Lake Park, late 1930's

Verona Lake Park, circa 1940

Verona New Jersey Civic Center
Verona, New Jersey Civic Center, circa 1948

A Short History of Verona, New Jersey 07044

The rolling hills and valleys of the Watchung Mountains and the abundance of hardwood forests, streams and productive farmland first attracted early settlers to western Essex County. In 1702, a group of colonists from Newark purchased nearly 14,000 acres from the Lenape Indians for the equivalent of $325. This area, comprising most of northern Essex County, was known as "The Horseneck," due to its unique configuration. They were joined by Dutch settlers from Bergen County. But clear title to the land was disputed several decades later by the original English Proprietors, resulting in "The Horse Neck Riots" in the 1740's, one of the earliest Colonial American challenges to British authority.

In 1798, after the American Revolution, "Horseneck" separated from Newark and became the "Township of Caldwell" consisting of what is now known as Verona, Cedar Grove, Fairfield and the Caldwells. By the mid-nineteenth century, this area was known as Vernon Valley. However, when application was made for a United States Post Office, the townspeople were informed that another Vernon Valley, in Sussex County, had first claim to the name. The name Verona was suggested as a substitute and was eventually accepted by all. 

Over the years issues arose which caused disputes between the Caldwell and Verona areas. These included a desire of the citizens of Verona to more closely control their own governmental affairs; with the population growing, Verona needed easier access to essential services such as schools and churches. As a result of these concerns, in 1892, the citizens of Verona and Cedar Grove voted to secede from Caldwell Township. Before long Verona found itself growing faster than Cedar Grove. This fact, along with the desire of Verona residents for a municipal water system and other public utilities resulted in the two towns deciding to separate in 1902. On May 13, 1907, the borough of Verona was officially recognized and incorporated by the State Legislature.

This page was first placed online in 2002 as a community service of First Baptist Church of Bloomfield, NJ. Our Church was founded in 1851 by residents of Essex County who desired to meet together for worship and the study of God's Word. Over the years a number of Verona residents have been members of our church. During all the time spanned by these photos, First Baptist has had an involvement in the community life of the area, and a spiritual impact in the lives of it's people. Now, over 160 years later, that spiritual impact is as vital as ever. 

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This Verona History page is from
a community service of First Baptist Church  (in downtown Bloomfield Center)
1 Washington St,  Bloomfield, NJ 07003